22 11, 2021

FCC Seeks Comment on the Affordable Connectivity Program

2021-11-22T10:38:19-05:00November 22, 2021|e-Lerts|

On November 18, 2021, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comment on its implementation of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP is part of the enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and expands and modifies the current Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) with a $14.2 billion appropriation and changes to the household eligibility requirements. The Commission seeks comment on how to transition from the EBBP to the ACP and welcomes input on how the ACP will operate as a long-term program. Comments are due December 8, 2021. Reply comments are due December 28, 2021.

The biggest change from the EBBP to the ACP is the monthly support amount for households located on non-tribal lands. This monthly support will decline from $50 per month to $30 per month. (The monthly benefit for eligible Tribal households remains unchanged at $75.) The effective start date of the ACP is established in the Act and will be December 31, 2021. There will be a 60-day transition from the EBBP benefit to the lower ACP benefit.

One provision of the ACP allows an enhanced benefit above the standard non-tribal $30 per month benefit, up to $75 per month for households served by providers in “high-cost areas” and where the provider can show a “particular economic hardship.” How providers in high-cost areas benefit from this provision is one area where the Commission seeks industry input.

JSI will be tracking this docket closely and will provide further details as the rules for the transition to the new ACP are finalized. If you have questions about the ACP or would like JSI to assist with filing comments, please contact Lans Chase at 770-569-2105, Liz Kayser at 512-338-0473, or Douglas Meredith at 801-294-4576.

16 11, 2021

Reminder: New Rules Governing Blocked Calls Take Effect Jan. 1

2021-11-17T12:13:46-05:00November 16, 2021|e-Lerts|

Clients should prepare now for compliance

Carriers that are blocking suspected illegal robocalls from entering their networks and reaching customers must begin sending response codes to the caller beginning January 1, 2022. The FCC’s Fourth Report and Order – Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls requires any terminating provider that blocks calls, either itself or through a third-party blocking service, to immediately return an appropriate response code to the origination point of the call. All voice service providers in the call path must also transmit the response code.

The required response codes will vary based on the blocking carrier’s type of network. The appropriate response codes are:

  • Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) code 607 or 608 for a call terminating on an IP network
  • ISDN User Part (ISUP) code 21 with the cause location “user” for a call terminating on a non-IP network
  • When a code transmits from an IP network to a non-IP network, SIP codes 607 and 608 must map to ISUP code 21
  • When a code transmits from a non-IP network to an IP network, ISUP code 21 must map to SIP code 603, 607, or 608 where the cause location is “user.”

All voice service providers must make the necessary software upgrades and configuration changes to ensure that these codes translate properly when a call moves between TDM and IP-based networks.

Unless the FCC issues waivers for small carriers or delays the effective date, the requirement begins January 1, 2022. Contact Bridget Alexander White at 301-459-7590 if you have any questions regarding this requirement or any other robocall mitigation efforts.

9 11, 2021

Landmark Federal Infrastructure Bill to Provide $65 Billion for Broadband

2021-11-09T15:03:13-05:00November 9, 2021|e-Lerts|

Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act late on Friday, November 5, 2021. The legislation appropriates more than $1 trillion to fund national infrastructure projects, including approximately $65 billion specifically for broadband infrastructure and related programs over the next five years. The bill now heads to the White House for signing. Rural broadband providers will benefit from several of the Act’s programs. This e-Lert summarizes the key broadband provisions for rural broadband providers.

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program
The National Telecommunications and information Administration (NTIA) will distribute $42.45 billion to the states based on the number of unserved locations in each state, with an initial minimum allocation of $100 million for each state. The remainder of the funds will be distributed based on each state’s unserved locations, defined as those lacking 25Mbps / 3Mbps. Private companies, cooperatives, and public-private partnerships will be eligible to receive grant funds through each state. Grants can be used for unserved (25/3Mbps) and underserved (less than 100/20Mbps) projects; connecting anchor institutions; data collection, broadband mapping and planning; installing CPE to eligible multi-family residential buildings; providing affordable internet-capable devices; and other uses determined by NTIA. Except for high-cost areas, grant funds may cover a maximum of 75% of the project costs, but grantees may use funds from the four previously passed COVID-19 response laws to meet the remaining 25%. Funded projects must deliver 100/20 Mbps within four years and must offer at least one low-cost broadband service option.

Middle-Mile Infrastructure Grant Program
Congress appropriated $1 billion to NTIA for a competitive middle-mile grant program to connect unserved and underserved last mile areas to the Internet backbone. Rural carriers are among the entities eligible for this program, which encourages public/private partnerships and may fund up to 70% of the middle-mile project costs. NTIA must release its notice of funding within the next six months.

Affordable Connectivity Program
Congress extended and modified the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP), now called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), with $14.2 billion to the FCC. The Act decreases the non-tribal monthly household benefit from $50 to $30.

ReConnect
Congress appropriated $2 billion for the fiscal year ending Sep. 30, 2022, to Rural Utilities Service’s existing the ReConnect program for broadband grants, loans and grant/loan combinations. ReConnect requires broadband speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps.

Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program
Congress appropriated $2 billion to the existing Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program for 2021-2022 fiscal year and to remain available until expended.

Appalachian Region High-Speed Broadband Deployment Initiative
Congress appropriated $1 billion over five years to the Appalachian Regional Commission for High-Speed Broadband Deployment and Regional Energy Hub initiatives. Congress directs that at least 65% of the funds be used for the broadband initiative. The Regional Commission must coordinate its grants with the FCC, NTIA, and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to avoid duplication of federal funding programs.

Digital Equity Programs
Congress appropriated $1.5 billion over five years to promote the achievement of digital equity, support digital inclusion activities, and build capacity for efforts by states related to broadband adoption. States must develop a State Digital Equity Plan and submit it with its application for grant funds. The Commerce Department will also create the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program to award $1.25 billion over five years to support those efforts.

Other Notable Items

Beyond the various grant programs contained in the legislation, Congress directed the FCC to take action in three broadband-related administrative programs:

  • $10 million to the FCC for a Broadband Deployment Locations Map. This program is funded separately from the FCC’s broadband DATA maps but will incorporate broadband service availability reported by those maps.
  • The FCC is directed to examine and make recommendations on how it should achieve universal service goals for broadband and submit to Congress its report in 270 days after the Act’s enactment.
  • Congress also directs the FCC to develop rules for consumer labels for broadband service no later than one year of enactment. After the FCC develops the rules, broadband providers must use broadband consumer labels when giving information to customers regarding broadband internet access service plans.

In addition, the legislation includes funds for improving the nation’s electric grid through smart grid and boost its security. The Rural and Municipal Utility Advance Cybersecurity Grant and Technical Assistance Program will provide $250 million for grants to help rural and municipal utilities deploy advanced cybersecurity technologies for electric utility systems and increase participation in threat sharing programs. As well, $3 billion will go towards a Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program to fund up to 50% of qualifying smart grid investments.

Please contact Douglas Meredith at 801-294-4576 or Carl Perry at 512-338-0473 if you have questions or concerns about the Infrastructure Act or would like JSI’s help in planning your participation in these new opportunities.

8 11, 2021

FCC Pauses Elimination of Lifeline Support for Voice-Only Service

2021-11-08T14:14:30-05:00November 8, 2021|e-Lerts|

On Friday, November 5, 2021, the FCC paused for one year its plan to eliminate Lifeline support for eligible customers that subscribe to voice-only service. The current $5.25 per month of support will remain in effect for all eligible voice-only customers until December 1, 2022. During that time, the FCC will evaluate whether the changed circumstances warrant longer-term modifications of the Lifeline program.

Lifeline support for voice-only service originally was scheduled to end on December 1, 2021. Companies should make sure that their billing systems are updated to ensure the continued Lifeline support to eligible voice-only customers.

Please contact Liz Kayser at 512-338-0473 or Lans Chase at 770-569-2105 if you have any Lifeline-related questions or need assistance.

2 11, 2021

CAF-BLS Cos. Without Locations in HUBB Must Contact USAC About Samples for Broadband Pre-Testing

2021-11-02T14:02:42-04:00November 2, 2021|e-Lerts|

Legacy CAF-BLS companies that may not have adequate locations in the HUBB for a random sampling before broadband performance pre-testing begins in January 2022 must contact USAC by Monday, November 8, 2021. All Legacy CAF-BLS companies, along with A-CAM II, Alaska Plan and CAF Phase II Auction carriers, must begin pre-testing in first quarter 2022 as part of the FCC’s performance measures testing framework. Companies will use a USAC-generated random sample of broadband locations deployed (and reported in the HUBB) that have active subscribers.

However, USAC has identified three scenarios where CAF-BLS companies may not have any locations or enough locations reported in the HUBB for the random sampling:

  1. Fully Deployed Prior to May 25, 2016 – Under this scenario, CAF-BLS companies have not reported any locations into the HUBB because they were fully deployed in their service territory prior to May 25, 2016 and therefore have no HUBB filing obligations.
  2. No Reported Deployments to Date – Since CAF-BLS companies only have one deployment milestone at the end of 2023, there may be some companies that do have a HUBB filing obligation but have not yet submitted any locations in HUBB due to no deployment of 25/3 broadband during the period May 25, 2016 to present.
  3. Limited Deployment to Date – Under this scenario, CAF-BLS carriers have entered some locations in the HUBB due to deployment of 25/3 broadband after May 25, 2016 but must rely on locations that were fully deployed prior to May 25, 2016 to meet their buildout obligations. For example, a company may have a buildout requirement of 3,000, but 2,800 of these were prior to May 25, 2016 and therefore only 200 locations are in the HUBB.

USAC has asked any Legacy CAF-BLS companies that fall under scenarios 1 and 2 to contact them at HCproduct@USAC.org by November 8. USAC is meeting with the FCC to discuss scenario 3 and is planning to send an updated email with language that is directly applicable to this situation. USAC is likely to ask companies under scenario 3 to tell them how many locations and at what speeds were deployed pre-2016 to be added to those that they did upload into HUBB. Regardless, USAC will follow up with CAF-BLS companies under each of the three scenarios on how to obtain random location samples for speed and latency pre-testing in 2022.

If you have any questions about this requirement or any other questions related to broadband performance testing, please contact Lans Chase at 770-569-2105 or Paul Nesenson at 651-452-2660.

22 10, 2021

Mandatory 10-Digit Dialing Begins Oct. 24 for Specific Area Codes

2021-10-27T12:00:42-04:00October 22, 2021|e-Lerts|

Affected carriers must send contact info to NANPA

This Sunday, October 24 is the deadline for carriers in the 82 area codes to implement 10-digit dialing in advance of the launch of the new three-digit code 988 this summer for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis hotline. All telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP service providers in areas that both use seven-digit dialing and use 988 as the first three numbers in seven-digit phone numbers must implement 10-digit dialing for all local calls.

In addition, all companies are required to make any necessary changes to their networks before July 16, 2022, to allow callers to dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis hotline number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Carrier Troubleshooting Contact Information
The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), which is managing the 10-digit dialing transition, has compiled a list of carrier contacts to be used only for troubleshooting issues to ensure all impacted carriers transition to 10-digit dialing as smoothly as possible.

Carriers transitioning to 10-digit dialing must provide their company’s troubleshooting contact information to the NANPA as soon as possible if they have not already.

The troubleshooting contact information must include: Provider Name, Primary Contact, Telephone Number(s), Hours of Operation, Backup Contact/Escalations, Email Address and Telephone Number(s).

Impacted NPAs
The area codes now required to transition to 10-digit dialing are:

STATE/TERRITORY NPA(S)
Alaska 907
Alabama 251
Arkansas 501
Arizona 480, 520, 928
California 209, 530, 562, 626, 650, 707, 925, 949, 951
Colorado 719, 970
Delaware 302
Florida 321 (Brevard County), 352, 561, 941
Georgia 478, 912
Guam 671
Hawaii 808
Illinois 309, 618, 708
Indiana 219, 574
Iowa 319, 515
Kansas 620, 785
Kentucky 859
Louisiana 337, 504
Michigan 616, 810, 906, 989
Minnesota 218, 952
Mississippi 662
Missouri 314, 417, 660, 816
Montana 406
Nevada 775
New Hampshire 603
New Jersey 856, 908
New Mexico 505, 575
New York 516, 607, 716, 845, 914
North Carolina 910
Ohio 440, 513
South Dakota 605
Tennessee 731, 865
Texas 254, 361, 409, 806, 830, 915, 940
Vermont 802
Virginia 276, 804
Washington 509
Wisconsin 262, 414, 608, 920

Please contact Lisa Cover in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590 if you have any questions regarding 10-digit dialing or need assistance reporting your troubleshooting contact to the NANPA.

Numbering & Porting Essentials Service

Clients interested in educating their staff on the cavalcade of numbering, porting and robocall mitigation requirements all service providers will face in 2022 should consider subscribing to JSI’s Numbering & Porting Essentials service. The subscription includes breaking news alerts, a free webinar and web-based education sessions designed to keep companies informed about important numbering, porting and robocall mitigation decisions that will impact their internal operations and customers. Contact Bridget Alexander White for more details and to sign up.

21 10, 2021

Lifeline Support for Voice-Only Service Ends December 1

2021-11-02T12:56:53-04:00October 21, 2021|e-Lerts|

In its effort to transition Lifeline support for eligible subscribers from voice to broadband services, the FCC has been phasing down support for voice-only Lifeline services. The current $5.25 per month of support is scheduled to end on December 1, 2021, unless the eligible Lifeline subscribers are in census blocks where there is only one Lifeline provider. Companies not in one of the exempt census blocks should make sure to notify their voice-only Lifeline customers of the upcoming federal support changes as their bills will increase.

Companies also may be required to file revisions to their Lifeline tariffs to reflect this change in support. If a Lifeline customer has since subscribed to a qualifying bundle which includes voice and broadband, the discount can be moved to the broadband portion of the bundle and the customer will be able to receive the $9.25 per month Lifeline discount.

The FCC issued a Public Notice on June 1, 2021, announcing which census blocks USAC has determined meet the criteria to continue receiving the $5.25 Lifeline support for voice-only service. Eligible customers can continue receiving the $5.25 Lifeline support for voice-only service in these identified census blocks.

Please contact Liz Kayser at 512-338-0473 or Lans Chase at 770-569-2105 if you have Lifeline-related questions or need assistance to determine if any census blocks on the FCC’s list are located in your company’s service area.

11 10, 2021

JSI Reminds Small Carriers that RND Reporting Begins Friday

2021-11-02T12:57:05-04:00October 11, 2021|e-Lerts|

Small service providers serving 100,000 or fewer domestic retail subscriber lines must begin uploading permanently disconnected numbers and the date of disconnection to the Reassigned Numbers Database (RND) Friday, October 15th. Small service providers must report cumulative initial data of permanently disconnected numbers collected covering the period from January 27, 2021, through October 15, 2021. Those carriers must submit the cumulative initial data to the RND on October 15, 2021.

All carriers – wireline, wireless and interconnected VoIP providers – that receive numbering resources from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator or another telecommunications carrier are required to track and report permanently disconnected telephone numbers and the last date of permanent disconnection to the RND. Small carriers’ monthly reporting requirement begins November 15, 2021.

The FCC established the RND to house phone numbers that have been permanently disconnected and possibly reassigned. The intent is to prevent consumers from receiving unwanted calls intended for the person who was previously assigned the telephone number. Callers, such as pharmacies and financial institutions, will be able to verify, before calling a number, whether it’s been permanently disconnected and therefore should not be called.

Please contact Lisa Cover in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590 if you have questions or need more information on the RND in preparation for the reporting mandate.

Numbering & Porting Essentials Service

Clients interested in educating their staff on the cavalcade of numbering, porting and robocall mitigation requirements all service providers will face in 2022 should consider subscribing to JSI’s Numbering & Porting Essentials service. The subscription includes breaking news alerts, a free webinar and web-based education sessions designed to keep companies informed about important numbering, porting and robocall mitigation decisions that will impact their internal operations and customers. Contact Bridget Alexander White for more details and to sign up.

7 10, 2021

NTIA Invites Providers to Challenge Census Blocks in BIP Applications

2021-11-02T12:57:17-04:00October 7, 2021|e-Lerts|

JSI encourages clients to confirm their service areas are not impacted

This week, the NTIA announced a preliminary list of applicants that are undergoing review in its Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP). This announcement opens a 15-day window for service providers to voluntarily submit information to NTIA about the areas proposed for funding. This brief window is now open and will close October 19th.

In its announcement, NTIA released a list of census blocks along with applicants, states/territories, and proposed service areas that they have identified as eligible applications. JSI encourages clients to look at this list and identify any census blocks where they provide qualified broadband service. If you find any blocks in which your company provides broadband service speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, you now have the opportunity to show NTIA that service already exists in the designated area proposed for grant funds.

Information provided to NTIA will be considered when they ultimately award funding if the following information is submitted:

  • Name of the company providing information;
  • Summary explaining the information you have submitted to NTIA;
  • List of 15-digit census block codes for any service area(s) being challenged;
  • List of your Points of Presence (POPs) in or near the census blocks listed by the announcement;
  • Maps indicating where you provide broadband service in an applicants’ proposed service area (preferably in shapefiles, .kmz, or .kml formats);
  • Number of households and businesses that have access to broadband service in that portion of your service territory that overlaps with the applicants’ proposed service area by census block and the number lacking access to qualified broadband service;
  • Type of broadband services offered in your service territory by census block and the technology used to provide those services, including, for wireless carriers, the spectrum that is used;
  • Speed of the broadband services offered; and
  • Number of subscribers that you currently have for each of the broadband services offered in your service territory by census block.

NTIA has requested that some items be provided in their template by census block and in tabular format. Please note, some information will be made public unless identified as confidential. NTIA may request further information be provided.

If you would like assistance submitting a challenge to NTIA or have questions about this process, please contact Amanda Molina at 321-985-5709 or Lans Chase at 770-569-2105.

29 09, 2021

Reassigned Numbers Database Reporting Begins Oct. 15 for Small Carriers

2021-11-02T12:57:41-04:00September 29, 2021|e-Lerts|

Many JSI clients, specifically those carriers with less than 100,000 retail subscriber lines, should be preparing their initial upload to the new Reassigned Numbers Database (RND), which must be completed by October 15, 2021. Those companies will then begin monthly reporting to the RND by November 15, 2021. The FCC established the RND to house phone numbers that have been permanently disconnected and possibly reassigned. The intent is to prevent consumers from receiving unwanted calls intended for the person who was previously assigned the telephone number. Callers, such as pharmacies and financial institutions, will be able to verify, before calling a number, whether it’s been permanently disconnected and therefore should not be called.

All carriers – wireline, wireless and interconnected VoIP providers – that receive numbering resources from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator or another telecommunications carrier are required to track and report permanently disconnected telephone numbers and the last date of permanent disconnection to the RND.

Database Reporting Dates
Small service providers serving 100,000 or fewer domestic retail subscriber lines begin uploading numbers to the RND next month. Small service providers must report cumulative initial data of permanently disconnected numbers collected covering the period from January 27, 2021, through October 15, 2021. Those carriers must submit the cumulative initial data to the RND on October 15, 2021.

Monthly reporting to the RND begins in November for those small carriers. Large service providers, those with 100,000 or more domestic retail subscriber lines, have been reporting permanently disconnected numbers to the RND each month since May 15, 2021.

Please contact Lisa Cover in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590 if you have questions or need more information on the RND in preparation for the reporting mandate.

Numbering & Porting Essentials Service

Clients interested in educating their staff on the cavalcade of numbering, porting and robocall mitigation requirements all service providers will face in 2022 should consider subscribing to JSI’s Numbering & Porting Essentials service. The subscription includes breaking news alerts, a free webinar and web-based education sessions designed to keep companies informed about important numbering, porting and robocall mitigation decisions that will impact their internal operations and customers. Contact Bridget Alexander White for more details and to sign up.

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